April 11th, 2017
It was a quiet, rainy morning in 2002 at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester, Minnesota. Kim DeBolt was staying at the hospitality house while recovering from a stem cell transplant at Mayo Clinic to treat acute myelogenous leukemia. Family members were often with her at the house, but Kim was alone that day, and she felt blue. Gazing out her window, she saw on the sidewalk a smartly dressed woman, briefcase in hand, holding an umbrella, heading downtown.
"As I watched her walk by, I thought, 'I want to do that, too. I want to have a normal day, get up in the morning and walk to work. And I want to work for Mayo Clinic,'" Kim says. "I never forgot that moment. I kept it in the back of my mind for a long time." Read the rest of this entry »
March 30th, 2017
For years, Rosa Isern has thoroughly enjoyed her job with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, where soldiers, airmen and their families purchase goods and services. Her work has taken her around the world on several tours overseas, including stints in Iraq, Afghanistan, Greenland and Djibouti.
In 2015, however, Rosa's future became uncertain when she learned she had a large colon polyp that was at risk to become cancerous. Doctors thought they might need to remove part of her colon. But thanks to a minimally invasive procedure available at Mayo Clinic's Florida campus, Rosa was able to have the threatening polyp successfully removed without surgery. That allowed her to get back to doing the work she loves. Read the rest of this entry »
February 22nd, 2017
At 81 years old, Harold Rogers has had quite a ride. For 30 years, the St. Mary’s, Georgia, resident was an air traffic controller and corporate jet pilot. But nothing prepared Harold for a diagnosis in early 2009 of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells inside bone marrow, which is considered incurable.
“I’d never heard of multiple myeloma. My primary care doctor said, ‘The good news is that it’s treatable. But it’s not curable,’” Harold says. “He then recommended I go to a cancer specialist.”
Harold opted to stay close to home and began chemotherapy in February 2009. When the treatment was over several months later, he was left with side effects that prompted him to get an evaluation at a different health care facility. That’s when he turned to Mayo Clinic. Read the rest of this entry »
January 17th, 2017
Courage. Optimism. Acceptance. Those are just a few of the attributes that define the determination of Karen Ramsey, whose rare medical condition makes her a member of an exclusive club. One to which she would much prefer not to belong. Karen has Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, or VHL, in which a gene mutation causes her body to be unable to suppress the growth of tumors.
Not one to sink into the comfort of denial, after her diagnosis Karen, now 56, dug in and did her homework. She learned that at least eight areas of her body could potentially succumb to tumors. She understood her future may forever be altered. In spite of the difficult diagnosis, with the support of her care team at Mayo Clinic, Karen found a way to move forward in a positive way. Read the rest of this entry »
December 23rd, 2016
In August 2014, Richard Carvajal, then 43, was in the best shape of his life. He was excited as he left his home in Bainbridge, Georgia, to compete in his first Olympic-distance triathlon. But as he drove across Alabama on his way to the race site, he started feeling sharp abdominal pain.
“It kept getting worse and worse, and I literally crawled into a Birmingham emergency room,” Richard says.
Although doctors initially thought Richard’s pain was caused by kidney stones, it turned out to be a symptom of a much more difficult problem. Testing eventually revealed Richard had pancreatic cancer.
November 3rd, 2016
When Gary Pearson went in for a routine physical required by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to maintain his commercial driving privileges, he left with much more than a renewed driver’s license. The 58-year-old departed his appointment with an urgent directive from the nurse practitioner that examined him to see his primary care doctor. The reason: Gary had a bulbous lump on his neck.
“If she hadn’t found it, who knows how long it would’ve taken to detect it,” says Gary of Claudia Swanton, the advanced practice nurse in Mayo Clinic’s Division of Preventive, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine who performed the exam.
October 11th, 2016
When he was born 13 years ago, Connor Johnson was a "miracle baby,’ according to his parents. Kathleen and Curtiss Johnson had struggled for years to become and stay pregnant. They had given up hope, when they discovered they were nearly four months along.
The miracle of Connor’s life took on new poignancy in the fall of 2015, when the young teen was diagnosed with an aggressive form of childhood brain cancer. Despite the seriousness of the tumor, an intensive treatment regimen at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester campus involving brain surgery and proton beam therapy, provided Connor and his family the promise of a brighter future. Read the rest of this entry »
August 31st, 2016
Jessie Brenholt is a certified pastry chef who would like to open a bakery one day. “If the ingredients were free, I’d give out cakes to everyone,” she says.
For a while, the 23-year-old's dream seemed to be in jeopardy. After months of being sick with weight loss, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and vision problems, Jessie found that the source of her symptoms was a tumor on her pituitary gland — a small gland located at the base of the brain that makes a variety of hormones.
A neurosurgeon near her hometown of Hill City, Minnesota, found that the walnut-sized tumor was wrapped around Jessie’s optic nerve and located close to a carotid artery. Treatment to get rid of it could affect Jessie’s sense of smell and vision. Due to the complexity of the situation, the surgeon referred Jessie to Mayo Clinic's Rochester campus.
“A pastry chef needs to be able to smell and see,” says Jessie. “My doctors at Mayo Clinic understood my concerns and have been great about preserving my quality of life with surgery and proton beam therapy.” Read the rest of this entry »
July 27th, 2016
It was 2012, and Beth Spreitzer was busy with life. Mothering her fourth-grade daughter and taking care of a household left no time to get sick. However, after experiencing what she thought were too many common symptoms – fatigue, chills, fever – and not improving, Beth thought something else must be wrong.
"In the past, the most I'd ever have to fight off was a cold. I attributed my recent symptoms to being busy and getting older," Beth says.
During a routine visit, her gynecologist noticed her thyroid was inflamed and tender to the touch. This butterfly-shaped gland rests in the bottom of the neck, around the windpipe. It has two side lobes that you can't feel when the thyroid is its normal size. The gland secretes hormones that regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
Her doctor asked if she'd been sick. Beth confirmed that yes, she suffered from a fever and chills a couple of weeks earlier and even had a cold sore, which for her was uncommon. But she admits she didn't think much about the conversation afterward. Read the rest of this entry »
May 21st, 2016
Jim Biles, M.D., understands cancer treatment. A urologist who specializes in cancer surgery, he has spent his career focused on helping people receive the cancer care they need. So at age 72, when Dr. Biles received his own diagnosis of an aggressive type of cancer, he knew how critical it would be to get treatment from someone with experience and expertise.
"When I found out I had a bone tumor, I started hunting around to see who could do the surgery. It turned out that there are very few people in the world I would trust with it," he says. "Not many do it, and even fewer have the experience that Dr. Sim does. He is the kingpin."
Dr. Sim is Franklin Sim, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at Mayo Clinic's Rochester, Minnesota, campus. After a consultation with Dr. Sim, Jim decided to go through with a complex surgery at Mayo to treat his cancer.
"Being a doctor, I was pretty picky about all the details being well managed," he says. "It was exceptional. I really couldn't have had a better experience." Read the rest of this entry »